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    In a bid to give boost to freight traffic by Indian Railways, Ministry of Railways has been coming up with various innovative schemes. Earlier, Multi-disciplinary Business Development Units (BDU) were set up by Western Railway at the zonal headquarters and at all its six divisions. These BDUs have been set up to improve business prospects in the freight market by incorporating new ideas and unique initiatives.

    Now, with one more  customer friendly initiative, Ministry of Railways have recently permitted 120 days advance booking of parcel space in various SLRs.
         
    According to a press release issued by WR CPRO Sumit Thakur, the advance booking of parcel space can be done  in  SLRs & Parcel Vans attached to passenger carrying trains and time-tabled Parcel Special trains. This scheme will enable  major parcel loading parties to plan their logistics in a better manner. Some of the features of this scheme are that advance booking of space is permitted 120 days in advance.

    This scheme is very customer friendly. Only 10% of total freight is to be paid in advance and 90% is to be paid 72 hours before the scheduled departure of the train. The cancellation/refund policies have also been laid down. Full advance freight shall be refunded, in case parcel space is not provided due to cancellation of train or any other reasons. The advance booking will be cancelled and advance freight forfeited, if the balance 90% freight is not deposited 72 hours before the scheduled departure of the train.

    50% of the advance freight shall be refunded, in case the booking is cancelled at least 72 hours before the scheduled departure of the train. No refund will be granted, in case cancellation is done after the deadline of 72 hours, before the scheduled departure of the train.

    Thakur further added that, advance indenting of Parcel Vans, to be attached to passenger carrying trains and time tabled Parcel Trains, is also permitted 120 days in advance, on payment of “Wagon Registration Fee” as per extant rules. This scheme was discussed by WR’s teams with prospective customers along with its salient features. Mumbai Central & Ahmedabad Divisions of WR have clinched  good deals accordingly and advance freight bookings in various trains were accomplished in these divisions.

    Mumbai Central Division booked total advance freight deals, earning revenue to the tune of Rs 80.74 lakh in last 4 days from 19th to 22nd September, 2020. Whereas, Ahmedabad Division booked advance freight deals, thereby generating revenue of Rs 131.48 lakh in  2 days on 21st & 22nd September, 2020.
             
    Thakur further added that due to the commendable performance by WR’s Business Development Unit, Vadodara Division secured loading of new automobiles via railway. This loading could be achieved due to the vigorous efforts and suitable marketing by the BDU of Vadodara Division. Western Railway collaborated  with M/s M G Motors for loading of the first rake of new automobile traffic. The automobiles were loaded at Champaner Rd station, which is near Vadodara, for Farukh Nagar in Gurugram district of Haryana. The revenue earned through this loading is approx. Rs 9.73 lakh.

    Thakur  stated that, despite complete lockdown imposed from 22nd March, 2020, Western Railway has done  laudable work by loading 15,730 rakes of goods trains till 22nd Sept, 2020.  WR has transported various essential commodities amounting to 32.98 Million Tonnes to different states of the country, including North East region. In addition to this Millennium Parcel Van and Milk Tank Wagons containing various essential commodities such as medicine, medical kits, frozen food, milk powder and liquid milk were loaded to Northern & North East region. Total 30,895 freight trains were interchanged with other Railways including 15,441 trains handed over and 15,454 trains taken over at different interchange points of Western Railway.

    The revenue generated through the goods traffic over WR,  has been Rs 4159.43 crore. In addition to above goods traffic, since 23rd March to 22nd Sept, 2020, commodities weighing approx. 1.32 lakh tonnes have been transported by Western Rly through its 560 parcel special trains, which mainly included agricultural produce, medicines, fish, milk etc. The revenue generated through this transportation, has been approx. Rs 44.35 crore.

    During this period, 93 milk special trains were run by Western Rly, with a load of more than 70 thousand tonnes and 100% utilization of the wagons. Similarly, 424 Covid-19 special parcel trains with a load of more than 42 thousand tonnes were also run to transport various essential commodities. In addition to this, 43 indented rakes carrying more than 19 thousand tonnes were also run with almost 100% utilization.

    WR has continued to run various timetabled Parcel special trains during lockdown period to different parts of the country. On 23rd  Sept, 2020, three parcel special trains, including an indent rake left from various stations of WR.  One parcel special left from Porbandar to Shalimar and another from Okha to New Guwahati. An indent rake left from Karambeli to New Guwahati.

    The total loss of revenue over Western Railway on account of Corona Virus, has been approx. Rs 2687 crore, which includes Rs 409 crore for suburban section and Rs 2278 crore for non-suburban. In spite of this, resulting to cancellation of tickets since 1st March, 2020 till 23rd  Sept, 2020, Western Railway has ensured to  refund  Rs. 433.38 crore. It’s worth mentioning that in this refund amount, Mumbai division alone, has ensured refund of more than  Rs 209 crore. Till now, 67.24 lakh passengers have cancelled their tickets over entire Western Railway & have received their refund amount accordingly.

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